“Exercise is the best doctor you can ever have!”
– Comment made by a Conquer MG educational meeting speaker
Most simply put, exercise within your limits is absolutely recommended if you are able. Don’t exercise if you’re weak.
Lack of exercise can actually cause fatigue; try something pleasant and nonstressful. Those who are able don’t necessarily exercise for how it feels when they do it, but how it makes them feel afterward. Listen to your body. Start slow and short. Always heed your body’s “NO” at its first hint.
Hear from an Expert
Should myasthenia gravis patients undertake an exercise program? Different sources provide different answers. The very general answer is — exercise is helpful for people with MG, but patients should not embark on exercise programs that require maximum output and produce weakness. Exercise should be done in a way that stops short of muscle fatigue, and this point will vary from person to person depending on age, overall fitness level, MG symptoms and other factors.
From Livestrong.com: One of the most frustrating components of myasthenia gravis is the tendency of symptoms to come and go. Some days you may feel capable of exercising, while on others a simple walk to the mailbox may leave you extremely fatigued. For this reason, only your doctor can advise you on how and when to exercise. Together you can set up guidelines on how much exercise is healthy for you and under what circumstances you should attempt it.
If your doctor approves, the elliptical machine may be a good way to build an exercise regimen. First, look for non-skid foot panels. You won’t need to lift your feet off the panels to use an elliptical, so there’s less danger of falling than with a treadmill. Many ellipticals offer two sets of grab bars – one set that moves and one that’s stationary. Be sure you use the stationary set for extra support.
So, exercise is a good thing. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program. Ask your doctor for specific guidelines. If he is vague about specifics for you, ask him if he knows of a physical therapist who has worked with MG patients. A PT can get you started on a program that you can continue on your own. Keep in mind that slow progress is fine and very worthwhile.
Exercise and MG: A Study
Exercise for Stable Myasthenia Gravis is an ongoing clinical trial sponsored by the Baltimore VA Medical Center.One of the study’s goals is to determine whether a 3-month comprehensive home exercise program can enhance fitness, strength and lung function to improve physical activity and reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
– World Health Organization 1948
Last updated June 2016.
Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, February 2015.
Unless otherwise stated, the information provided here is of a general nature, composed by non-medical personnel. It is meant to be accurate and helpful advice for MG patients. It is not intended to be medical opinion, nor is it a substitute for personal professional medical care.